KARACHI: No cattle market should be set up within the city and the government must ensure strict implementation of its standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Eidul Azha, demanded the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and civil society activists on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference held at the PMA House, they also demanded a complete lockdown in the city as per WHO recommendations to prevent spread of Covid-19, describing the smart lockdown approach as ineffective.
“We suggest strict implementation of SOPs during Eid or else the government should get ready for another hard time like we faced after Ramazan. The government must not allow holding of cattle markets for sacrificial animals within the city,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad of PMA.
Presenting a list of other demands on behalf of the PMA and civil society activists in attendance at the event, he said the government should bear treatment cost of all coronavirus patients at private hospitals in consultation with hospital managements.
PMA demands complete lockdown, random coronavirus testing
“No medicine/health related items should be sold without the prescription of a qualified medical practitioner. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan and healthcare commissions of respective provinces should address the panic and confusion currently prevailing in the country relating to the management of coronavirus,” Dr Sajjad noted.
He also called upon the government to look into the issue of rampant power outages across the city and ensure routine electricity supplies in the ongoing pandemic.
Concern over rising cases
Highlighting concerns over rising Covid-19 cases, Dr Sajjad said the situation was worsening in the country with each passing day.
“The government data suggest that till now 213,470 people have been tested Covid-19 positive, whereas 4,395 people have died. This situation has occurred because the country doesn’t have any uniform policy to contain the spread of coronavirus.”
The federal and provincial governments were not on the same page, which had led to confusion in the general public over the pandemic, he added.
Elaborating further, Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro said a lack of clarity and misconceptions about the virus and insufficient hospital facilities had caused frustration and panic in society. “The social media is spreading false information that patients shouldn’t be taken to hospitals because doctors will declare the patient Covid-19 positive and the family will also be declared coronavirus affected.”
Resultantly, he said, many people influenced by the social media were keeping their ailing loved ones at home and took them to hospitals only if their condition deteriorated.
“At this stage, if the patient dies or his condition further worsens, attendants start damaging hospitals and attack medics. The general public are also hoarding medicines and medical equipment, causing shortages and price hike of these products in the market.”
‘No concept of smart lockdown in world’
On the smart lockdown, Dr Qazi Wasiq claimed that there was no concept of this strategy in the world and nobody took it seriously. The smart lockdown, he said, could only be implemented when cases started going down.
The association suggested collection of population health data and random coronavirus testing in areas under smart lockdown.
It challenged the government data showing reduction in Covid-19 cases and contended that this was due to reduced testing for coronavirus.
“Our testing capacity is not up to the mark. We should have 25,000 testing capacity per day in each province. People have been left with no option but to go to private labs. The government should fix price of a coronavirus test and bear hospital charges in consultation with labs and hospitals. The government should also not allow sale of any medicines and health related items without the prescription of a qualified doctor,” said Dr Sajjad.
Sharing concerns over the safety of healthcare workers and their shortage, he said over 3,000 healthcare workers were in isolation after contracting the infection while 60 doctors and paramedics had died.
“This has caused shortage of healthcare professionals, a serious matter urgently requiring government attention. Our other concern pertains to the welfare of families of healthcare professionals dying of coronavirus. We have been demanding shuhada package and payment of risk allowance for them but nothing has been done so far.”
Speakers included Faisal Edhi, Uzma Noorani of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mahnaz Rahman of Aurat Foundation and Anis Haroon, member National Commission for Human Rights Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020